Category Archives: family

Giving Each Other The Bird

You know you might need to find something else to do with your time when you start to snap about the little things.  I mean, the really, really stupid little things.

This is Feldman, our travel flamingo.

Feldman on Key West

He goes on vacations with us and is generally used as a marker on beaches so we can easily find our chairs after taking a stroll down water’s edge.  He’s always held a spot of honor in our home, and since our move to Florida, he’s on display outside at all times.

Now that we’re fairly well settled into our retirement down here, we’re finding ourselves with more time on our hands to play with silly projects.  That’s where Feldman’s updated look began.

For some completely warped reason, I decided he needed dreadlocks.

Kevin stepped in to help and drilled holes in dear, little Feldman’s head while I was still sleeping one morning. I was mildly annoyed, because I’d pictured the holes to be more like slits, and I knew there was no way I’d be able to weave the dreads through these tiny openings. Kevin, in his never-ending need to fix things for everyone, then created a tool for me to use in the task.  OK, it wasn’t how I wanted it to proceed, but I could grumbling and mutteringly see where it would work, although differently from my plan.

I laboriously drew the black strands through the holes. Black yarn was wrapped around each dread to keep them looking dreadful.  The bottom of each strand was sealed with a dot of red nail polish, to give it the look of a bead.  My creative juices were flowing like our now thinner, Florida blood!  I was rejoicing in my stupidity!  The top was knotted and sealed with clear nail polish so it wouldn’t fray.  However, that left the top of his head looking kind of unkempt, so I decided he needed a hat.

I mentioned to Kevin that I was going to search online for a Rastafarian hat for Feldman, and before I even had the opportunity, my “fixer” reported that he’d done an internet search and couldn’t come up with anything.  However, he found Rasta shoelaces that I might be able to work with.  I went to Amazon, found something similar and ordered them, all the while grumbling to myself about the fact that he stole my internet search.  In record time, they were in my mailbox.  I then spent a very enjoyable morning fashioning one lace into a really cool hat.  When I tried it on Feldman, I realized it needed to be glued on to his head.

And this is where my pissed-offitude really took wing.

We only had Python Glue.  I don’t like Python Glue.  Kevin likes Python Glue.  I wanted Gorilla Glue, but the last time we were in a store and I tried to buy some, Kevin insisted on buying Python Glue, because he uses glue, too.  The nasty Python Glue wouldn’t work the way I needed it to work.  It needed to be held on for hours.  I wasn’t holding a hat on a stupid, plastic flamingo for hours.  (Sorry, Feldman!)  I told him that I’d be waiting for pay day to go buy the glue I wanted, all the while internally seething that I could have had my project already done if only he’d have butted out of my need for Gorilla Glue the last time and let me buy what I wanted.  But, noooooo…

The next morning when I woke up, Feldman was up high on a cabinet with rubber bands securely holding my Rasta creation to the top of his head… with Python Glue!  Kevin wasn’t around, so I was able to get a real, good snit going.  WTF?!  This was supposed to be my project! Did he really think he was helping me?  I couldn’t even look at my darling Feldman.  I had a unique way that I wanted to attach the hat so it would slouch down his back, and I was sure he didn’t do it the way I wanted it done.  I spent the rest of the day avoiding looking at Feldman on top of the cabinet, and avoiding Kevin as much as possible.  I knew he thought he was helping me, but I felt he’d destroyed… yes, destroyed!.. my project.

Oh, but it got worse.  The next morning, Feldman was waiting for me by my computer.  The rubber bands were gone.  Swallowing a huge lump in my throat, I picked him up to see how he looked.  My masterpiece of a hat was glued firmly, dead center, on top of his head.  He looked like a Chinese coolie flamingo. The tip that I’d sewn over to form a slouch pocket down the back was pointing to his left.  I was livid.  I didn’t want to make a scene (quite yet, but I was certainly masterminding one), so I just left poor Feldman laying on the table by my laptop, while I worked on letting myself get into a real snit, and mentally prepared for the hissy I was going to throw.  I picked him up a few times throughout the day and lamented all the hours I’d put into the beauteousness of him.  My upper lip trembled with repressed rage. My nostrils quivered with anger. He was ruined in the final hour.  RUINED!  A coolie hat!

I could barely talk to Kevin.  I kept my distance.  I growled to myself over and over and over about Python Glue and Gorilla Glue and holes instead of slits and leave my shit alone and maybe I could have found a pre-made hat if he hadn’t interfered and rubber bands and coolie hats!  I even thought of throwing my beloved Feldman away.  I was working up an enormous head of steam and I was just about to blow when I finally took a deep breath and picked Feldman up.  Sniffling and with unshed tears filling my eyes, I started folding parts of the hat this way and that.  I imagined what I could do with it if I bought some Gorilla Glue to use in certain, small spots.  I realized he might not be a total loss, and as much as I wanted to severely punish Kevin and make the rest of his life a living hell, it probably wasn’t worth ruining my marriage over.  After an extended cool-down period, I grudgingly made myself hug Kev, thank him for his efforts and tell him I was going to go buy some Gorilla Glue.  A couple of days later, I was even able to laugh and tell him how angry I’d been and how I’d planned on never speaking to him again because of his interference with my dreadlocked, pink, plastic flamingo project.

I’ll just save all my evil revenge plans for his next infraction of my unstated rules.

Feldman, mon.

Good-bye, My Friend

I found myself at a place in my life where I’d suffered many losses.  With lots of important people missing from my world, I decided that no one else was going to get in.  But, with a need for interaction of some kind, I ended up on a website that allowed intelligent people to cyber-mingle.

I thought it was the perfect solution, but I was wrong.  These online people were more than just icons and snappy comebacks.  There were people behind the profile pictures, and I found myself forming attachments.

It started out with cards, then phone calls and texts.  Gifts started being sent and received, and shoulders were both lent and given for crying.  Then, visits became kind of inevitable.

I found myself caring for these people in a way that I didn’t think possible.  I’ve met a baker’s dozen or so, and have plans to meet more.  If you add their family members in to this mix, I’ve met upwards of 25 or 30 online friends.

You can get into all kinds of real life situations with online friends.  You can laugh, joke, cry, bitch, moan and even get pissed off. Some online friends stopped being friends because cyber-bullshit doesn’t always translate any better than it does in real life.

And when an online friend dies, you grieve just as though they were a co-worker, real-life friend or neighbor.  You cry, rail at the gods and remember.

I lost Terry and Søren.   I knew how hard this next loss was going to hit, but I’m still reeling over the recent events.  I lost Ruth.

I’m not going to go into detail about what an amazing woman she was, or all of the things she accomplished.  Our mutual friends know all of these details.  I just want to say that when she requested my friendship on that old website, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  She guided me, aided me and slapped me when I needed slapping.  She became my online mother.  My Mummy, as it were, and she named me InaPie.  She yelled at me when I needed yelling at, and sometimes when I didn’t.  Those were the times I yelled back at her.  We locked horns, danced and hugged each other on numerous occasions.  I felt honored that I had the chance to actually meet her.  I’m blessed that I had Dame Ruth Dickson in my life, and my only regret is that I didn’t have her longer than the six years I was granted.

Good-bye, gorgeous.  Until we meet again.

Ruth Dickson (1925 – 2012) and me.

Adventures in ADD

The plan to sleep in as late as I could was known by my husband, so maybe I should have been a bit more curious about his 6:15 a.m. wake-up call, beseeching me to run downstairs and turn off the pot of beans he left on the stove.  In an almost surreal state, I moseyed downstairs and saw a pot on the stove that looked fine.  I turned off the burner, peeked under the lid at the plump and (nauseating) lima beans as Kevin ran in through the kitchen door, dripping sweat, hyperventilating, wide-and wild-eyed and totally freaked out.

A little back story seems to be in order…

Our plan to eat everything in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry before going to the grocery store had led Kevin to an early morning discovery of a puddle of goo, next to a bag of lima beans in the bottom of the freezer.  After cleaning the goo, he decided to cook the lima beans and take them to work for lunch.  With the beans cooking, he started to unload the dishwasher.  With the door to the dishwasher still open, he threw away the lima bean bag and realized the garbage can was full.  He deserted the dishwasher and took the bag of garbage out to the shed.  Once back by the shed, he found a plant that needed to be staked up, so he tended to that, before heading over to our tiny pool and doing a little maintenance on it.  He’d worked up a bit of a sweat by this time and decided to take an early morning bike ride to cool off.  He rode down to the beach, where he moved a picnic table to a more favorable location, thinking that he’d come home and wake me gently with the romantic notion to have coffee on the beach at sunrise together.  He then continued his bike ride down the pier.  He was almost all the way to the end of it when he remembered the beans on the stove.  In a dead panic, he turned his bike around and made like Lance Armstrong toward home, simultaneously calling me on his cell.  Visions of the house in flames and a wife dead of smoke inhalation flew through his mind, so the sight of me standing sleepy-eyed and morning-rumpled in a perfectly safe and calm kitchen nearly brought the man to his knees.  I was greeted with one of the sweatiest and most grateful hugs I have ever received.

When he told me about his plans for us to have coffee on the beach at the table he’d moved, I canned my immediate plans to go back to bed.  I mean, how could I resist that?  His angst and self-flagellation were enough punishment for him, so I bit my bitchy tongue, filed the event away, never to be brought up again.

That is, of course, unless I need to.  ;o)

Read This or I’ll Slap You

I’m hormonal as hell.  Menopause sucks scissors.

I’m hot flashing and night sweating and crying and bitching and yelling and blaming and wanting to kill something.

I’m fat and bloated and hot and cold and horny and you better not touch me and then I’m happy and sorry and apologizing and crying and eating all the chocolate and drinking all the beer and wine and crying more.

I want your attention and you better give it to me but you better leave me the hell alone if you know what’s good for you after you give me more chocolate and wine and tell me that I don’t look fat and that’s an order.

I love you all.

Adventures in Gerontology

My latest adventure in taking my octogenarian parents out included a trip to Sam’s Club, among several other stops.

 

After trip to the doctor for Mom, we stopped back at their house to pick up my father and go to lunch. We dined on fine cuisine at Steak ‘n Shake, where they inevitably under tipped the server. (My mother can’t wrap her head around the concept of tipping for service. She thinks that if you eat in a cheap place, you also cheap out on the tip.) As usual, I left the rest of the tip on the table when they went to pay the tab.

 

Once in the car, the argument about who had the Sam’s Club card ensued. Dad insisted that Mom had taken it from him a few weeks before, and Mom was adamant that he had it. I assured them that I had a card of my own, so if theirs was lost, we could still get in. They argued this point all the way to Sam’s, which was really just a trip across the parking lot. Just as we were pulling into our parking spot, Mom found the card in her wallet. My father exulted in, “I told you so!” as we made our way to the door. Once at the door, the greeter asked to see the card. Mom had already put it away and wanted to know why I hadn’t gotten mine out to show her, instead.

 

I exchanged a goofy grin with the greeter who could see what was going on, as I quickly pulled my card out and made my way into the inner sanctum of the store. Mom was still in the lobby, looking for their card again. Being more than just a little hard of hearing, I had difficulty getting her attention to get her to realize we had been granted permission to enter. She eventually found her card and came forward, while the greeter and I exchanged more smiles and knowing looks.

 

We made our way through the aisles and down to the bakery department. Mom wanted cheesecake, but it was too big. Mom wanted baklava, but there were too many in the package. Mom wanted Danish, but they only came in packages of twenty-four. She was getting angry and was loudly complaining about everything being in such large sizes. I had to remind her that we were at Sam’s, and everything at Sam’s came in that size before she stopped being so vocal about her disappointment.

 

We hit the meat department, and I took the cart and stood off to the side while I waited for her to peruse and reject everything in sight. She picked up a large, poorly wrapped pork roast and called me over to see if I thought it was two roasts together. She turned the package this way and that, while bloody juices dripped all over the floor. She thrust it into my hands to get my opinion before I could point out the poorly wrapped quality and the mess she was making. Luckily, I had a paper towel in my pocket to wipe our hands on.

 

We proceeded down various other aisles, where she seemed to forget that other people were also shopping. Thankfully, most of them caught the gist of my dilemma and no one ran her over with their cart, nor did they get nasty with her when she walked in front of them and stopped dead in her tracks to compare prices on olive oil. I mouthed silent apologies to many shoppers when she nearly caused a collision, and they were all gracious in their awareness of an elderly lady being taken shopping by her middle-aged daughter.

 

The check-out line couldn’t come too soon.

 

I put all of their purchases on the conveyor belt and the cashier rang them up. This is when my mother decided it was time to argue a coupon with this poor gal. It seems that she had gotten a “$10 off all new memberships” coupon in the mail that morning. She thought she should be able to get $10 off because she was renewing her membership. I took this opportunity to go sit at one of the picnic tables behind the registers, once again mouthing silent apologies to a clerk who had a hidden smile, just for me. She had to call the manager to the register to explain to my mother, who continued to argue. The line was growing longer behind her. The manager finally told her that she could claim the coupon, but would have to fill out an application at the front of the store. My mother thought that was ridiculous and too much of a waste of time, so she gave up the idea of the coupon.

 

Thankfully, we were able to get out of the store at this time. She just wanted to make one more stop at the grocery store on the way home, for a couple of small things she couldn’t get at Sam’s. Dad and I decided to wait in the car for her on this trip. Forty-five minutes later, she emerged with two small bags. She was furious and complaining about some “old lady” in front of her at the express register who wanted the clerk to just take the money out of her bank account, without a debit card, check or credit card to present. The store manager had to get involved and the situation deteriorated.

 

“Vhat iss vrong viss some people? Dat dumb old vooman! She made effrybuddy vait!”

 

I think the concept of Karma was lost on Mom.

My Most Em-bare-assing Moment

Our return home from our honeymoon was a bit on the hurried side, as we needed to prepare for our nearly immediate return to the daily grind. Kevin downloaded our vacation shots to Kodak, put together a little album and sent the pictures off to various people in a hurry before he left for work on the morning of our first day back.

My daughter called me at work that day and said that her husband had opened this album while he was working and was quite shocked, because there was a topless picture of me in the mix. I assured her that that wasn’t possible, and that her husband must not have seen the shot clearly. I just figured that since he knew we’d had the audacity to go to a clothing optional resort for this trip, he’d imagined he saw something that wasn’t possible.

You see, I tan very, very dark. My race has been questioned on many occasions throughout my life. Stuck in the midst of Jamaica in a place that wouldn’t worry about my tan lines, every inch of my skin soaked up every ray that it could. My skin color was nearing black.

At times, I did don a bathing suit. The sexiest little leopard number that Victoria’s Secret had to offer was worn on the occasional occasion when I wanted to feign being demure. In the dawn of the digital day, I allowed some pictures to be taken of me that would not have to be seen by the toothless, drooling developers at a drug store photo shop. We had a favorite table at one bar that was actually in a pool, and there were pictures of us at this table, both with me wearing the leopard bathing suit and without…much of anything. Even I had found it hard to tell the clothed shot from the topless one without looking closely. I mean, leopard spots can look like…um…other spots…on a body. I was certain that Kevin wouldn’t have made this error, as he was too conscientious and gallant.

When I got home from work, I laughingly told him of the call I’d received and my reaction to it. The look on his face terrified me. The look told me that the news I’d heard was true. He went on to tell me how he’d accidentally included that shot in the album, and how he’d been overwhelmed with email and phone calls all day from people with questions and comments about the inclusion of the questionable picture in our honeymoon album. Apparently, he didn’t know what to do about it until the guy from IS at his hospital said, “Dude. Just go to Kodak and remove the picture from the album.” This is what he did, but not before it had been seen by my son-in-law, daughters, son, parents, new step-daughters, their boyfriends, new sister-in-law, new in-laws, the neighbors, our friends, some of his co-workers…yeah. All of them.

I don’t embarrass easily, but when he gave me the news, I literally fell to my knees in the kitchen, one hand flung over my mouth and the other over my unexposed breast. I remember wanting to crawl under the stove. I was gasping for breath and making unintelligible sounds for the longest time, while he apologized repeatedly and profusely.

Naturally, I was the butt, or the boob, of many jokes from family, friends and neighbors for the next couple of weeks. One man kept insisting that he’d ordered a dozen “Ina coffee cups” from the Kodak website before Kevin had the chance to remove the picture. I just kept staring and glaring at my new husband through all of this ridicule, adding to his ever-growing sense of guilt and shame.

In the end, it was well worth it. It’s given me fodder to hold against him for all of the years since and many to come when I need him to feel guilty.

Not to mention a spectacularly shiny diamond and emerald tennis bracelet. He really apologizes well.

Daddies and Daughters

We walk the halls of the Veteran’s Administration with them; we, the daughters of men who served our country. There are some young women with fathers who are obviously of the Viet Nam era, but mostly it’s us older women; the daughters of men who served in World War II.

Gray haired and often struggling with our own ailments, we hold the doors for fathers with canes, walkers and wheelchairs. We put our fathers in chairs in the lobby while we run to the pharmacy, lab, physical therapy and the front desk to make and confirm appointments, pick up medications, update personal information.

We become familiar to each other. The woman in the red blouse seems to come here nearly as often as we do. The woman in the green shoes…I think I heard her father call her Kathy. That one has a new hair cut. That one’s father is in a wheelchair, now. He was walking last month. I turn my head to the side so no one can see my eyes fill. The one with the lyrical laughter doesn’t come here any more. I’m fairly certain I know what has happened to her father, and I look at my own by my side, biting my lip to stop the tears.

The halls resound with our voices:

“Daddy, wait here and I’ll get…”

“Dad, you don’t need to be so rude to this nice man…”

“You’ll have to excuse my father, he doesn’t…”

“Do you need to use the bathroom before we leave, Dad?”

“Hold my arm, Daddy. I’ll get you there.”

We’ve become the parents to our fathers, the parents to our own children and often the parents to our grandchildren. We’re sandwiched and weighted, weary and grateful.

We hold the frail hand of Daddy as we help him try to maintain some dignity and thank God that we’ve had him this long, and that we’re able to be here for him as he takes his last steps, as he was for us, when we took our first.